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Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read
While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call in the dead of the night. The elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter.
Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.
About the Author
Date of Birth:June 22, 1964
Place of Birth:Exeter, New Hampshire
Education:Phillips Exeter Academy 1982; B.A., Amherst College, 1986; University of Seville, Spain
Read an Excerpt
Robert Langdon awoke slowly.
A telephone was ringing in the darkness--a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed.
Where the hell am I?
The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram:
HOTEL RITZ PARIS.
Slowly, the fog began to lift.
Langdon picked up the receiver. "Hello?"
"Monsieur Langdon?" a man's voice said. "I hope I have not awoken you?"
Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead.
"This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent."
Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor? His eyes focused now on a crumpled flyer on his bedside table.
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS
An evening with Robert Langdon
Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University
Langdon groaned. Tonight's lecture--a slide show about pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral--had probably ruffled some conservative feathers in the audience. Most likely, some religious scholar had trailed him home to pick a fight.
"I'm sorry," Langdon said, "but I'm very tired and--"
"Mais monsieur," the concierge pressed, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. "Your guest is an important man."
Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last year Langdon's visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had seemed never-ending.
"If you would be so kind," Langdon said, doing his best to remain polite, "could you take the man's name and number, and tell him I'll try to call him before I leave Paris on Tuesday? Thank you." He hung up before the concierge could protest.
Sitting up now, Langdon frowned at his bedside Guest Relations Handbook, whose cover boasted: SLEEP LIKE A BABY IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS. SLUMBER AT THE PARIS RITZ.
He turned and gazed tiredly into the full-length mirror across the room. The man staring back at him was a stranger--tousled and weary.
You need a vacation, Robert.
The past year had taken a heavy toll on him, but he didn't appreciate seeing proof in the mirror. His usually sharp blue eyes looked hazy and drawn tonight. A dark stubble was shrouding his strong jaw and dimpled chin. Around his temples, the gray highlights were advancing, making their way deeper into his thicket of coarse black hair. Although his female colleagues insisted the gray only accentuated his bookish appeal, Langdon knew better.
If Boston Magazine could see me now.
Last month, much to Langdon's embarrassment, Boston Magazine had listed him as one of that city's top ten most intriguing people--a dubious honor that made him the brunt of endless ribbing by his Harvard colleagues. Tonight, three thousand miles from home, the accolade had resurfaced to haunt him at the lecture he had given.
"Ladies and gentlemen . . ." the hostess had announced to a full-house at The American University of Paris's Pavillon Dauphine, "Our guest tonight needs no introduction. He is the author of numerous books: The Symbology of Secret Sects, The Art of the Illuminati, The Lost Language of Ideograms, and when I say he wrote the book on Religious Iconology, I mean that quite literally. Many of you use his textbooks in class."
The students in the crowd nodded enthusiastically.
"I had planned to introduce him tonight by sharing his impressive curriculum vitae, however . . ." She glanced playfully at Langdon, who was seated onstage. "An audience member has just handed me a far more, shall we say . . . intriguing introduction."
She held up a copy of Boston Magazine.
Langdon cringed. Where the hell did she get that?
The hostess began reading choice excerpts from the inane article, and Langdon felt himself sinking lower and lower in his chair. Thirty seconds later, the crowd was grinning, and the woman showed no signs of letting up. "And Mr. Langdon's refusal to speak publicly about his unusual role in last year's Vatican conclave certainly wins him points on our intrigue-o-meter." The hostess goaded the crowd. "Would you like to hear more?"
The crowd applauded.
Somebody stop her, Langdon pleaded as she dove into the article again.
"Although Professor Langdon might not be considered hunk-handsome like some of our younger awardees, this forty-something academic has more than his share of scholarly allure. His captivating presence is punctuated by an unusually low, baritone speaking voice, which his female students describe as 'chocolate for the ears.''
The hall erupted in laughter.
Langdon forced an awkward smile. He knew what came next--some ridiculous line about "Harrison Ford in Harris tweed"--and because this evening he had figured it was finally safe again to wear his Harris tweed and Burberry turtleneck, he decided to take action.
"Thank you, Monique," Langdon said, standing prematurely and edging her away from the podium. "Boston Magazine clearly has a gift for fiction." He turned to the audience with an embarrassed sigh. "And if I find which one of you provided that article, I'll have the consulate deport you."
The crowd laughed.
"Well, folks, as you all know, I'm here tonight to talk about the power of symbols . . ."
* * *
The ringing of Langdon's hotel phone once again broke the silence.
Groaning in disbelief, he picked up. "Yes?"
As expected, it was the concierge. "Mr. Langdon, again my apologies. I am calling to inform you that your guest is now en route to your room. I thought I should alert you."
Langdon was wide awake now. "You sent someone to my room?"
"I apologize, monsieur, but a man like this . . . I cannot presume the authority to stop him."
"Who exactly is he?"
But the concierge was gone.
Almost immediately, a heavy fist pounded on Langdon's door.
Uncertain, Langdon slid off the bed, feeling his toes sink deep into the savonniere carpet. He donned the hotel bathrobe and moved toward the door. "Who is it?"
"Mr. Langdon? I need to speak with you." The man's English was accented--a sharp, authoritative bark. "My name is Lieutenant Jerome Collet. Direction Centrale Police Judiciaire."
Langdon paused. The Judicial Police? The DCPJ were the rough equivalent of the U.S. FBI.
Leaving the security chain in place, Langdon opened the door a few inches. The face staring back at him was thin and washed out. The man was exceptionally lean, dressed in an official-looking blue uniform.
"May I come in?" the agent asked.
Langdon hesitated, feeling uncertain as the stranger's sallow eyes studied him. "What is this is all about?"
"My capitaine requires your expertise in a private matter."
"Now?" Langdon managed. "It's after midnight."
"Am I correct that you were scheduled to meet with curator of the Louvre this evening? "
Langdon felt a sudden surge of uneasiness. He and the revered curator Jacques Saunière had been slated to meet for drinks after Langdon's lecture tonight, but Saunière had never shown up. "Yes. How did you know that?"
"We found your name in his daily planner."
"I trust nothing is wrong?"
The agent gave a dire sigh and slid a Polaroid snapshot through the narrow opening in the door.
When Langdon saw the photo, his entire body went rigid.
"This photo was taken less than an hour ago. Inside the Louvre."
As Langdon stared at the bizarre image, his initial revulsion and shock gave way to a sudden upwelling of anger. "Who would do this!"
"We had hoped that you might help us answer that very question. Considering your knowledge in symbology and your plans to meet with him."
Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear. The image was gruesome and profoundly strange, bringing with it an unsettling sense of deja vu. A little over a year ago, Langdon had received a photograph of a corpse and a similar request for help. Twenty-four hours later, he had almost lost his life inside Vatican City. This photo was entirely different, and yet something about the scenario felt disquietingly familiar.
The agent checked his watch. "My captain is waiting, sir."
Langdon barely heard him. His eyes were still riveted on the picture. "This symbol here, and the way his body is so oddly . . ."
"Positioned?" the agent offered.
Langdon nodded, feeling a chill as he looked up. "I can't imagine who would do this to someone."
The agent looked grim. "You don't understand, Mr. Langdon. What you see in this photograph . . ." He paused. "Monsieur Saunière did that to himself."
One mile away, the hulking albino named Silas limped through the front gate of the luxurious brownstone residence on Rue la Bruyere. The spiked cilice belt that he wore around his thigh cut into his flesh, and yet his soul sang with satisfaction of service to the Lord.
Pain is good.
His red eyes scanned the lobby as he entered the residence. Empty. He climbed the stairs quietly, not wanting to awaken any of his fellow numeraries. His bedroom door was open; locks were forbidden here. He entered, closing the door behind him.
The room was spartan--hardwood floors, a pine dresser, a canvas mat in the corner that served as his bed. He was a visitor here this week, and yet for many years he had been blessed with a similar sanctuary in New York City.
The Lord has provided me shelter and purpose in my life.
Tonight, at last, Silas felt he had begun to repay his debt. Hurrying to the dresser, he found the cell phone hidden in his bottom drawer and placed a call to a private extension.
"Yes?" a male voice answered.
"Teacher, I have returned."
"Speak," the voice commanded, sounding pleased to hear from him.
"All four are gone. The three sénéchaux . . . and the Grand Master himself."
There was a momentary pause, as if for prayer. "Then I assume you have the information?"
"All four concurred. Independently."
"And you believed them?"
"Their agreement was too great for coincidence."
An excited breath. "Excellent. I had feared the brotherhood's reputation for secrecy might prevail."
"The prospect of death is strong motivation."
"So, my pupil, tell me what I must know."
Silas knew the information he had gleaned from his victims would come as a shock. "Teacher, all four confirmed the existence of the clef de voûte . . . the legendary keystone."
He heard a quick intake of breath over the phone and could feel the Teacher's excitement. "The keystone. Exactly as we suspected."
According to lore, the brotherhood had created a map of stone--a clef de voûte . . . or keystone--an engraved tablet that revealed the final resting place of the brotherhood's greatest secret...information so powerful that its protection was the reason for the brotherhood's very existence.
"When we possess the keystone," the Teacher said, "we will be only one step away."
"We are closer than you think. The keystone is here in Paris."
"Paris? Incredible. It is almost too easy."
Silas relayed the earlier events of the evening . . . how all four of his victims, moments before death, had desperately tried to buy back their godless lives by telling their secret. Each had told Silas the exact same thing--that the keystone was ingeniously hidden at a precise location inside one of Paris's ancient churches--the Eglise de Saint-Sulpice.
"Inside a House of the Lord," the Teacher exclaimed. "How they mock us!"
"As they have for centuries."
The Teacher fell silent, as if letting the triumph of this moment settle over him. Finally, he spoke. "You have done a great service to God. We have waited centuries for this. You must retrieve the stone for me. Immediately. Tonight. You understand the stakes."
Silas knew the stakes were incalculable, and yet what the Teacher was now commanding seemed impossible. "But the cathedral, it is a fortress. Especially at night. How will I enter?"
With the confident tone of man of enormous influence, the Teacher explained what was to be done.
* * *
When Silas hung up the phone, his skin tingled with anticipation.
One hour, he told himself, grateful that the Teacher had given him time to carry out the necessary penance before entering a house of God. I must purge my soul of today's sins. The sins committed today had been Holy in purpose. Acts of war against the enemies of God had been committed for centuries. Forgiveness was assured.
Even so, Silas knew, absolution required sacrifice.
Pulling his shades, he stripped naked and knelt in the center of his room. Looking down, he examined the spiked cilice belt clamped around his thigh. All true followers of The Way wore this device--a leather strap, studded with sharp metal barbs that cut into the flesh as a perpetual reminder of Christ's suffering. The pain caused by the device also helped counteract the desires of the flesh.
Although Silas already had worn his cilice today longer than the requisite two hours, he knew today was no ordinary day. Grasping the buckle, he cinched it one notch tighter, wincing as the barbs dug deeper into his flesh. Exhaling slowly, he savored the cleansing ritual of his pain.
Pain is good, Silas whispered, repeating the sacred mantra of Father Josemaria Escriva--the Teacher of all Teachers. Although Escriva had died in 1975, his wisdom lived on, his words still whispered by thousands of faithful servants around the globe as they knelt on the floor and performed the sacred practice known as "corporal mortification."
Silas turned his attention now to a heavy knotted rope coiled neatly on the floor beside him. The Discipline. The knots were caked with dried blood. Eager for the purifying effects of his own agony, Silas said a quick prayer. Then, gripping one end of the rope, he closed his eyes and swung it hard over his shoulder, feeling the knots slap against his back. He whipped it over his shoulder again, slashing at his flesh. Again and again, he lashed.
Castigo corpus meum.
Finally, he felt the blood begin to flow.
What People are Saying About This
Dan Brown has to be one of the best, smartest, and most accomplished writers in the country. The Da Vinci Code is many notches above the intelligent thriller; this is pure genius.
I would never have believed that this is my kind of thriller, but I'm going to tell you something -- the more I read, the more I had to read. In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has built a world that is rich in fascinating detail, and I could not get enough of it. Mr. Brown, I am your fan.
Intrigue and menace mingle in one of the finest mysteries I've ever read. An amazing tale with enigma piled on secrets stacked on riddles.
The Da Vinci Code sets the hook-of-all-hooks, and takes off down a road that is as eye-opening as it is page-turning. You simply cannot put this book down. Thriller readers everywhere will soon realize Dan Brown is a master.
Dan Brown is my new must-read. The Da Vinci Code is fascinating and absorbing -- perfect for history buffs, conspiracy nuts, puzzle lovers or anyone who appreciates a great, riveting story. I loved this book.
"Read the book and be enlightened."
—The Washington Post Book World
“A pulse-quickening, brain-teasing adventure.”
“Thriller writing doesn't get any better than this.”
—The Denver Post
—The New York Times
Reading Group Guide
The following questions are intended to enhance your discussion, spotlight memorable passages, and make your reading experience of The Da Vinci Code even livelier.
The following questions are intended to enhance your discussion, spotlight memorable passages, and make your reading experience of The Da Vinci Code even livelier.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There's nothing more I like about a book than its ability to make me want to keep reading and reading. Honestly, there was no good stopping point. I would stop then quickly skim the first line of the next chapter and before I know it, I've read into two more chapters. Very entertaining and enjoyable from beginning to end. Loved it!
To be honest, reading a book in my free time never hit the top of my "to do" list. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown made me want to read more. From this one book, I realized that Dan Brown could transport you to the world of the Holy Grail. The way the book flowed made it seem like the story took place over a few days. In reality, Dan Brown has written a 489-page book over the course of 24 hours. Honestly, there weren't many times when I could say, "I should stop reading if I want to get enough sleep." Every page was filled with action-packed scenes, puzzles, and interesting insights. There were some things I didn't like about the book, however. Throughout the book, Dan Brown used French words in the dialogue. He doesn't include a glossary--well, not in the paperback edition, at least--and sometimes I have to skip over the French words or use my imagination to figure out what they mean. Also, the descriptions of the Louvre, for instance, seem like they come out of a travel brochure. Honestly, I didn't need to know every single detail of the Louvre because I saw it on the Internet before. You should read The DaVinci Code if you have an interest in codes and puzzles, conspiracies, and mystery. Dan Brown does an excellent job of explaining his ideas, up to the point where a teenager can understand. This is what I like about Dan Brown. He is able to captivate his audience with controversial topics while reminding us that his books are fiction. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages, and I hope that you'll enjoy this book as much as I did.
When I took the decision of sitting down and read the book it was because of the high recommendations that it had received from all my friends and teachers. I myself am not much of a reader, but as soon as I started reading the book I just couldn't let go of it. After reading this book I can certainly say that Dan Brown is a true genius. The Da Vinci code is a masterpiece. It's one of those books that are unique and that are always going to be a must read. It starts out with a murder case, but it isn't your typical case of finding out who it is, Dan Brown is sure of leaving more than evidence towards the true secret behind this murder case that has more behind it than just a guilty assassin. I assure you that throughout the whole journey that the protagonist Robert Langdon and Sophie Nevue undergo you will feel the tension and the passion for finding out the secret that Da Vinci has left for us. You will feel nervous, you will feel sad and disappointed when you can't find out the secret and you will utter satisfaction, you will end up with an open mouth. It has all the characteristics of a mystery/adventure novel that will make you enjoy this book as if you're Robert of Sophie themselves. I'm certain that you won't be able to think about anything else when you're not reading the book. Besides all this incredible characteristics it also has a small dose of love between the 2 main characters, that throughout the whole book you can see the obvious chemistry that exist between them. So for all those readers who like the unexpected, this is your book, when you're sure that that's the guy, or that they have solved the mystery, I assure you, you will be wrong, the truth will blow your mind. One of the things that I most enjoyed was the fact that several things were happening at the same time with different characters, the author gives you just the amount of information about what's happening with one character to leave you hooked, and then will go and tell you in the next chapter what's happening with the other characters and ALSO LEAVE YOU HOOKED! so you won't be able to stop reading you will read faster and faster, holding your breath to the sudden twists the book takes, and be breathless by the end of it. Although Dan Brown's literature as a whole may not be very good, it is apt for many ages and great to be read as a fictional fun book that will leave you with a sweet taste of mouth. When finishing the Da Vinci code you will want to read more of Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code is an amazing book and I dare rate it without a doubt a 5 star book. What's great about Dan Brown is that he doesn't stop his masterpiece here he continues his extravagant writing in books like Angels and Demons, Digital Fortress, and Deception point, so I can say without a doubt that Dan Brown is one of top authors of this age with a creativity that is worth being turned into a book.
this book trilogy aka known as the robert langdon trilogy seriously is amazing from the very begining to the very end dan brown blows that evil twilight author outta the water
Great Book, Great Movie. I love this story.
This book is awesome! Couldn't put it down.
He has done it AGAIN!!!! Congrats.
This novel was very well written it was so intruiging that i would find myself staying up late at night reading it. Its quite enjoyable to attempt to solve the puzzles before the characters do in the book, if one is into that sort of thing. Also many twists and turns in the plot line i did not see coming. Over al, highly recommended!
Do not judge THIS book by its cover! When I started The Da Vinci Code I was pulled in from the instant action. Exciting sequences and twists kept me attached most of the time. Mixed with descriptive words, details, and great dialouge, I, at times, felt like I was in the book. Although the book was suspenseful and exciting, sometimes the pages dragged on leaving me confused. I like the characters Brown used. They were creative and witty. The Da Vinci Code has a great plot and an interesting climax. This book is not recommended for religious christans who would be offended by its content or young children because of its content/maturity level. This book would leave some hanging while leaving others with confusion and wonder. Overall, The Da Vinci Code is a great book for anyone. :)
Is it possible to give this book a middling rating rather than go to one extreme or another? Sure. Here's why: For starters, the book is in fact a page turner. Once I started reading it I didn't want to stop. Why? Because every chapter leaves you hanging on the edge waiting for the next step in the adventure. While that is effective at keeping a reader involved, it also left me feeling like I was being strung along and that the pay-off couldn't measure up to the expectation. I was right. It didn't. 'The Da Vinci Code' is altogether entertaining, and subsequently altogether forgettable. It's actually been over a year since I read the book and if it hadn't been for the movie refreshing my memory a bit, I would have forgotten most of the major plot points by now. The only parts that stuck with me were Dan Brown's antagonistic flogging of Christian doctrine without any real basis for the wild claims he was making, and the image of an ascetic albino murderous monk. Silas was much more memorable than any of the protagonists. Oh, I also enjoyed the descriptions of Rosslyn Chapel, although that is mostly because I am interested in anything dealing with Scottish history. That's about it. The characters are mostly forgettable because Brown moves so quickly through the story that there is no time for development. If you MUST read something by Dan Brown, 'Angels and Demons' is better. Better plot progression, more vivid locations, more exciting climax, more bewildering plot twists, and a little less sacrilegious, although even more abrasive toward Catholicism, particularly the Vatican. Characters remain on the shallow side. If you choose to buy either of Brown's Langdon series books, get the illustrated editions. I might not have even bothered to read them without the pictures...they add to the story immensely. Having said all that, I will probably read Brown's next Langdon novel. I am curious what he is going to do with Freemasonry. Perhaps he will also take time to give Robert Langdon some backstory and provide him with a few friendly human links that extend beyond the scope of the manic plot and his arcane life of academia.
I loved the sample it was great infact I love the book already
I've never read a book quite this good. I never wanted to put this book down when reading it. I would always try to put it down, and then i'd end up reading forty more pages. A lot of people disagree with the facts that are in this book, but the book is still amazing. I don't care who you are, you will definitely enjoy this book
It takes a very talented writer to take some historical facts & mix them in with some truly outside the religious box fiction & create likely the most controvertial book of our times. For that alone Dan Brown gets not just 5 stars, he gets 10 from me. Far beyond the edge-of-your seat, nail-bitting suspense, the man managed to single handedly outrage the Catholic church & bring out all kind of experts to prove his book wrong. A book which was classified as fiction from day 1. The book & movie where boycotted in many countries. Mr Brown has received hate mail & death threats... all because the man wrote a fictional story. Like it or not, the man is a genius, a very rich one. Would that I be sooo good a writer! Hate or love it, this novel has put Dan on a category of his own. Very few people dont know his name & why. You go on Mr Brown! The more haters you have, the more to your credit because even haters spent time reading the book. The rest of us can't wait for the next book, movie & controversy. =}
IZZIE??? Sissy!! Come home! Please! I miss u! Im srry this happened but its over now!! Plz dont do this!! Think of Carter sissy! He would never forgive u if u jumped!
I read this when it was first published years ago. It was just as thrilling as a re-read. Dan Brown is one of the best authors out there. Fast paced. Keeps your interest throughout. You won't be disappointed with his books.
no hate it
Great read, couldn't put it down. Makes one wonder and think. The idea behind it might be offensive to some, not to me, I take it as entertainment.
Keep in mind that this book is FICTIONAL. Some groups mentioned in this book are real, but there purposeses said in this novel are not. GREAT BOOK
I have A LOT to say about The Da Vinci Code, but it would take pages and pages just to get out my first thought.. So, I'll just shorten it to my main points. I can honsetly say no book has ever intrigued me more. The cryptic mesages, the realistic characters, the kill to thrill feel, everything had me hooked. Also, when Brown went into detail on the Divine Proportion, I was amazed. I was so interested, I bookmarked my page and went straight to Google to learn more. And the next time I took a shower, I did measure from my head to feet and sure enough, 1.816 to one. Another thing, the pyramid in front of the Lourve. I have a few things to say about that. To put it in front of the beautiful Lourve was a drunk night idea, obviously. It completely ruins the magesty and divine archetect skills of the Lourve. It ruins the ancient feel of the structure, invading it with the modern world. But, it is a creative idea with a beautiful arial veiw. If it wasn't obstructing the grand regality of the museum, it would be astonousing.. to me, it has a very Las Vegas or Hollywood feel. I'm a 14 year old girl, and granted a little more mature than others in the 8th grade... to sum it up. The Da Vinci Code was a moving, gripping, amazing, unique, spectacular book that I recomend to EVERYONE.
Enjoyed it through the whole book. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Didn't expect the church to be involved. I love history and there is plenty of that also. It's hard to put it down. catfancierVP
I love this book ALMOST as much as Angels & Demons! THANKS FOR THE FREEBIE TO ADD TO MY NOOK, B&N.
This book is so riveting
A great mix of history and adventure. Found myself looking up places and events as I read.